Tuesday, August 16

Unicode Updated to Include 250 More Emoji Symbols for Phones and Computers

Unicode is getting an update which will include 250 more “emoji” symbols, as well as other updates for languages around the world. Smartphone users around the world, rejoice. Among the many updates are a hammer, a spider, an arriving airplane, a hot pepper, and a satellite. The update release is Unicode Version 7.

Unicode is a system that came into existence during the early 90s as a way to provide a uniform code for different character and letters. Years ago, many countries and languages used their own systems for text encoding. Before the internet, this worked out fine. After the introduction of the World Wide Web, however, a problem quickly became apparent. When a page was written on one standard but seen by a web browser as another standard, the page would appear on the screen as total gibberish symbols. After the introduction of Unicode, though, this problem became less and less prevalent.

In addition to the updates to the emoji range of characters, which have been popular with people — especially teenagers — worldwide, there will also be updates to include more symbols for languages and monetary values, such as the Azerbaijani manat and the Russian ruble. The Unicode consortium has stated that the additions support “written languages of North America, China, India, other Asian countries, and Africa.”

Unicode was first developed in Japan, and consequently, many of its symbols are influenced by Japanese culture. Food images include sushi, bento and rice balls, for example. Worldwide users have asked many times for a more diverse and global range of the popular pictographics.

As the Washington Post points out, some users have responded to the update with disappointment. Many were hoping for a more diverse range of “faces” — most emoji faces are displayed as white. As Unicode points out, though, they do not decide how the standard body of text appears on your phone or computer — how the character is rendered is for developers like Apple to decide.

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